Price pair tackle tough C S Hayes Stakes

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February 15, 2018 - 05:00 PM

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Right from day one trainer Mick Price has held lightly raced Grunt in high esteem.

The three-year-old begins his autumn program in the C S Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on Saturday, a race the trainer hopes will be a springboard to future riches.

Grunt made his debut at Flemington last May finishing third behind Aloisia and was immediately put away to grow and develop.

A light summer campaign, resulting in successive wins at Werribee and Morphettville, before another break, had the desired result for Price.

With large numbers of quality three-year-olds in Australia, spots are at a premium in upcoming feature races and Price said success in Adelaide had been crucial for Grunt's future.

"It was good to get his rating up, and lucky we did, because he ended up number 16 in the order of entry for this race," Price said.

"Some of these Australian Guineas horses have had to go to the midweekers, like Weiry's horse (Peaceful State) did the other day, to get their rating up."

Following the trip to Adelaide in December, which Price said had toughened the three-year-old, the colt headed to the beach property of Eric Musgrove at Corinella to freshen.

Price said while Grunt was on a path towards the Australian Guineas, long-term he sees his future in longer races.

"The Rosehill Guineas, the ATC Australian Derby, that's the sort of horse we think he is," Price said.

The stable will also run Cao Cao in Saturday's race and will rely on scratchings to get I Have Arrived into the 16-horse field.

Price said the class rise made it tough for Cao Cao.

"When he won the other day I thought they were closing on him," Price said.

"That was in a smaller field, against lesser opposition.

"I haven't been able to get any improvement out of him as he was at his top the other day.

"I think he'll have a nice run in the race, but it would need to be an absolute personal best from him to win."